NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - Former World No.9 Andrea Petkovic made a winning return to the WTA on Monday, grinding out a marathon first round victory at the New Haven Open at Yale after seven and a half months of injury woes.
Petkovic missed three months from mid-January to mid-April with a back injury and then, at her comeback tournament in Stuttgart, injured her ankle in her second match back, which kept her out another four months. Those stretches combined saw her fall out of the Top 10 to her current ranking of No.43.
But the lay-off didn't affect her mental toughness, as she toughed out a 63 57 75 win over Timea Babos in her very first match back, coming within points of defeat serving at 4-5 in the third set but closing that game out and winning eight of the last nine points of the match to close the door on the Hungarian teenager.
"I was very nervous today, but also very excited. It was a great match and Timea was playing so well," Petkovic said. "I was really emotional after the match. When I was out with my back and won my first match back in Stuttgart it was nice, but this time I've gone through more. And I broke into a little Petko Dance!
"It was fun to do the Petko Dance again. Sometimes in the past I felt a little obliged to do it, but this time it really came from inside."
The German talked about her time off, which wasn't all bad in the end.
"I did rehab Mondays through Saturdays, but the best thing about the injury was I kind of had my weekends off, so I went to so many concerts I never had the chance to go to before. I saw my friends a lot too. The weekends were great.
"I went to see Casper, a German rapper I've been a fan of for really, really long - he only performs in Germany, so I never really had the chance to go, and it was absolutely great. I also saw The Cure, which is one of my all-time favorite bands. There were so many bands I cannot name them all. I also went to a Dubstep thing, which I never really liked, but it was mindblowing. I was doing a Dubstep dance, but I hope it doesn't affect the Petko Dance because it was really ugly!"
All four seeds in action - No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki, No.4 seed Sara Errani, No.6 seed Dominika Cibulkova and No.7 seed Maria Kirilenko - won in straight sets. Wozniacki beat Ekaterina Makarova, 63 63, to improve to 18-0 lifetime in New Haven - she has won the title every one of the last four years.